|review by Joyce Corbett December 2006
Are you tired of the same Christmas songs done the same way, year after year? Would some 1930s jazz jingle your tree? Then you should hear Alex Pangmans Christmas Gift. This jewel case contains some obscure Christmas tunes from the 30s, some newer ones done New Orleans-style, an original tune penned by Pangman herself, Truckin Around the Christmas Tree, some great old blues sounds and, especially in Drew Jurecka's fiddle, a wee dose of country swing.
Pangman even gets her Christmas magic to work on Jingle Bells, a beloved classic for many but not for me. Its first seven identical notes are usually more than enough for my ears, but Alex Pangman & her Alleycats infuse this tune with a brassy vibrancy.
The bright and fresh "I Want you for Christmas", copyrighted in 1927, is just the sort of tune that suits Alex Pangman and this band to a T as is "The Man with the Bag", first made famous by Kaye Starr in 1950.
Another 1950s favourite, "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" with Terra Hazelton joining Alex Pangman on vocals is one of two duets on the CD. Their voices mingle beautifully on the mostly jolly tune with a blues break in the middle featuring Terra Hazelton. The other duet is Baby Its Cold Outside with Alex Pangman and Tory Cassis, another addition to a growing list of fine renditions of the tune.
I particularly like Alex Pangman on the bluesy Christmas Spirits track, which makes me think of Ida Cox recordings from the 1930s (with better sound). An instrumental version of Winter Wonderland replete with shuffle beat, sassy trumpet and clarinet brings some New Orleans heat to melt the snow, and Boogie Woogie Santa Claus should get you rockin around the Christmas tree with its Downchild Blues Band-style horn arrangement and Alex Pangmans spirited vocal.
One last but important note about this CD is the Christmas Gift referred to in its title, the enclosed Gift of Life organ donor card. I quote from Alex Pangmans liner notes, it is my goal through this recording to raise awareness on this front. In the spirit of giving.